I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome!!! HELP!!!

I'm a full-time court reporter student, part-time legal secretary/billing clerk, and freelance transcriptionist... and I think I've developed carpal tunnel syndrome!!! :(

I wanted to ask if our CSR's have carpal tunnel? If so, can/do you still work through it?

Worst case scenario is that I can no longer pursue my dream of becoming a Certified Shorthand Reporter... which would seriously be AWFUL!!! I've worked SO HARD to get to where I am now (160 WPM and counting). I don't want to forsake my dream of being a CSR until I absolutely, absolutely have to! But I don't think it'll be that severe... right?!

I did some online researching, and the articles I've read say that carpal tunnel is very common and is treatable. For instance, I already tried the ice pack method and just generally rested my hand as much as I could. It helped tremendously! The tingling/numbness subsided after a few days, and today I don't feel it (the tingling/numbness started on Thursday night, and today is Monday morning).

So... again my questions are:
- Do you have carpal tunnel? If so, how does it affect your work?
- What do you do to help curb this disorder as you work?
- Do you honestly think I should be worried about pursuing my career in stenography now that I've developed this? ***I REALLY NEED REASSURANCE ON THIS ONE PLEASE***

Any help you can give is so appreciated! Thank you all in advance!

- Christine

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Comment by C Cipolla on June 23, 2009 at 4:06
I agree with Tami's comment - Write Short. Join Magnum Steno Fan Club, and Brief Club, and see my post in Brief Club titled "Brief Formulas" which reduces finger contortions...
Comment by K.C. Corbin on June 23, 2009 at 3:54
I second or third the comments regarding chiropractors and massage therapists. I work with a reporter who was told she has CTS, went through shots, rest, the works with very little relief. She started seeing a chiropractor and the pain has greatly improved and continues to get better. I visit a chiro regularly to keep my back, neck, and shoulders pain free. It is amazing the difference when you keep your ying and yang in line.

All the best.
Comment by Amy on June 22, 2009 at 21:48
I've been told I have carpal tunnel and tendonitis, but it only gets really bad when I'm in trial and not getting very many breaks in writing. I have been told about surgery, but I'm not choosing that option just yet. I've been doing this for 15 years. Try writing with a wrist guard on your wrist. I've also found that a massage therapist works wonders. They can massage those tendons. And there are exercises you can do. Also I've found that Aleve or Ibuprophen works wonders. Good luck to you :)
Comment by Christine (Steno Nerd) on June 22, 2009 at 20:32

I shall look into each and every single thing recommended. I'm really grateful for CSR Nation and this wonderful community! ;)

I seriously was crying when I realized that I *might* be developing CTS and *might* have to possibly re-think my career. :( You have NO IDEA how much I NEEDED to hear all your words of encouragement, ESPECIALLY since you know from experience what I'm going through and ESPECIALLY since you have already BEATEN THIS CHALLENGE!!! Now, I know for sure I CAN TOO!!! ;D

Thanks again, CSR Nation!!! You're all so awesome!!! :) :) :)
Comment by Tami on June 22, 2009 at 19:12
Don't give up on this career, Christine!! It's really way too much fun to give up AND you've worked too hard to get where you're at.

I got CTS way back in the 80s. I was one of the first casualties before anyone talked about prevention. "CTS" was actually a pretty new ailment to the world. I wrote to the point I had claws for hands. You don't want to get to that point before you start listening to your body.

I slowly made it back -- after pretty much a five-year hiatus actually.

You've been given some great advice.

I think a regular B-6 dose helped me so much, even though I haven't taken it in a while, which is just stupid on my part.

I swear by deep-tissue massage. I mean SCREAMIN' DEEP-tissue massage. When I'm writing every day, I have to get one every Saturday morning at my chiro's office. The one doc also does this stretch thing on my forearms that also makes me scream. The other doc in the office uses this metal bar on my forearms when I feel I can't work another day. More screaming.

Ice all the time.

I work every day in braces, too.

Stay off the QWERTY keyboard as much as possible. I really think that's the major culprit these days, not the steno machine. Keep your elbows off EVERYTHING!

I use the Report-It by Stenograph. If I didn't use it, I think I'd be missing another five years due to a rotator cuff injury. Is that how you spell "rotator"??

Before you get on any keyboard, stretch your hands out religiously. I'm sure that will be covered by the Julie D. site.

Oh, and exercising every day will keep you going. When I work a full day, if I don't work out for at least 30 minutes until I'm huffing and puffing, pushing the blood through the veins, I feel my hands clawing up on me and/or my right shoulder feels like it's completely immobile.

Hang in there!!

Oh, and I almost forgot -- SHOCKING! -- write short. I really think that's why I'm able to work these days. I write clean and short. I have very little clean-up time. My editing is like reading a book with an occasional ping from my hands. I know that's not important for you now in your endeavor to get out of school, but it will prolong your career.

I stroke about a third of the strokes I used to. Maybe a quarter. Whenever I get a chance to see another reporter write, I just sit there in awe wondering how they do that day in and day out. My job is soooo much easier than theirs.

Gotta get off this keyboard. Now my hands are hurting. :)

I wish you the best of luck with this little hurdle, Christine. I'm sure you'll get over it!!
Comment by Deborah M. on June 22, 2009 at 17:57
I started getting it when I was in reporting school 20 years ago. I was told to take B6 as that helps with inflammation. It helped a bit. I ended up on different anti-inflammatories -- Naprosyn did nothing for me, nor did Feldene. I found relief by wearing wrist braces with a metal insert to keep my hands aligned when I slept and by taking Voltaren. After about a year, the Voltaren did a number on my stomach and I gave up and did surgery eight months after becoming a reporter. Did one hand, was off for a month, worked for a month, did the other hand, was off for another month, and haven't looked back since. I had a great, very experienced doctor and had outpatient surgery. I'd say try everything else that is recommended, but if you end up having surgery, as long as you have a good doctor, you will be okay. I've been working for the last 20 years or so with no problems. Oh, and I was so used to sleeping with the braces, I couldn't sleep without them for years after! I STILL wear them if I have trouble falling asleep -- sort of like my security blanket. Good luck
Comment by Tanya Saar on June 22, 2009 at 16:47
The same thing happened to me in school. I went to the health food store and this is what they recommended and it really helped me. Also, I was a court reporter for 15 years, so all is not lost.
Take these at night before bed. Yucca, which is for inflammation, and Scullcap, which helps the circulation in your hands while you sleep. My pain was worse when I slept. I hope this helps.
Comment by Judy on June 22, 2009 at 15:21
Have you changed anything recently, like the position of your mouse, the height of your chair, placement of your computer, etc., etc.? That could be what's flaring it up. I thought I'd conserve on space one time and got this wonderful little corner unit desk with a slide out for my keyboard and mouse. I was at the doctor's within a month and was diagnosed with "tennis elbow." Wore the brace for a bit, got rid of the desk, increased the space that my arm had to move and, voila, for the most part it's gone. I do have to admit I've had an issue the last few weeks, but I think it's because I got a new car and when I've got my finger on the radio , you know, next station, next station, next station, I have my wrist/arm propped up on the stick shift. I do believe that's what's causing my pain this time around. I wrote over 100 pages today without an issue.
Comment by Dana Serrano on June 22, 2009 at 12:17
We all get aches and pains. I've been to the doctor and that's what they always want to say... you have carpal tunnel. Don't accept it!! Go get a massage or accupuncture. The pain in your wrists is probably coming from your back and shoulders. Make sure you're doing exercises for your hands and neck and back. Don't be afraid to get some R&R. You'll do more damage if you don't. It's your body's way of saying... slow down, I need taken care of. You can also wear braces on your wrists at night to keep them in proper positioning and leave them on during the day as much as you can. Also, I wear a magnetic bracelet and that helps me a lot.
Comment by Christine (Steno Nerd) on June 22, 2009 at 10:48
Hi, Janet:

Thanks so much for all that info! I'm checking out her website, and it looks great! I think I'll buy the kit. I'm sure it'll help!

Thanks again!

- Christine

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